Wednesday, September 12, 2001

The line of donors stretched half a block along the sidewalk outside the Red Cross Blood Donor Center at 1915 I St. NW by 3:45 p.m. yesterday.
“We’ve had over 300, I know that much,” said Kathleen Loehr, national director of major gifts for the Red Cross.
She handed out informational leaflets to donors and suggested they come back another day unless they were willing to wait up to three hours to give blood.
Among the donors on I Street NW was Lauren Katz, an 18-year-old international affairs major at George Washington University.
“My best friend lost his uncle at the World Trade Center,” she said. “He was on the 67th floor and they haven’t heard from him.”
The overburdened telephone system allowed her to get through to her parents in New York City on her cell phone for the first time about 3 p.m. They told her to stay indoors.
“My dorm is about a mile from the Pentagon,” Miss Katz said. “We saw helicopters going back and forth.”
She ventured out to wait in line at the donor center despite her parents’ warnings following the crash yesterday of an airliner into the Pentagon.
“I’m afraid of needles, but this comes first,” she said.
As she stood only a few blocks from barricaded streets and armed guards around the White House, she said, “America is coming together, but this isn’t the way America should come together.”
Behind her, Joel Barkin, 25, a Georgetown wholesale clothing worker, wondered about the fate of “a very close friend.”
His friend is a human resources worker at a World Trade Center investment firm. He said he had been unable to get through on the telephones to check on her, but he knew she was scheduled to work in the building yesterday.
He described himself as “pretty scared.”
“I’m here because I was watching the news like everybody else,” Mr. Barkin said. “When they said one of the ways you can help is give blood, it seemed like the least I could do.”
Jessica Berger, 25, a waitress, gave similar reasons for her blood donation.
“I can’t do anything else to help the situation,” she said. Her blood is O-positive.
Last summer, she interned in New York City for an insurance company that has offices at the World Trade Center, where some of her former colleagues worked yesterday, she said.
“I have a number of people who were in the building I haven’t heard from,” she said.
She reached her father, who works about a mile from the World Trade Center in New York’s financial district, earlier yesterday.
“He said there was so much debris coming down it looked like it was snowing,” she said.
About 4 p.m., Red Cross personnel sent several dozen of the waiting donors home, asking them to return another day. The half-dozen staff members collecting blood estimated they would need the remaining three hours until closing time to tend to the approximately 60 donors who remained.
People lined up around the city to donate blood to help the victims.
About 200 blood donors lined up faster than the Red Cross could handle them at the Montgomery County chapter’s headquarters on East-West Highway, and staff members were busy bringing in extra technicians to draw blood.
Outside the Inova Health Blood Donor Center, which supplies blood to Inova Fairfax Hospital, donors waited patiently for their turn to donate blood. The center had gotten enough blood for Inova Fairfax. “Hopefully we can send it to other hospitals if they need it,” a worker at the center said.
Kimberly Keys, blood donor services clinical coordinator at Washington Hospital Center, said Catholic University had been bringing students down to give blood. What was a three-hour wait to donate blood at about 1 p.m. had become a six-hour wait at 4:30, and staffers were taking phone numbers to call donors back later. Staffers were recruiting donors to help with later callbacks, too.
“It’s the tiniest thing I can do. Without doing this, I’m just helpless,” architect Eve Hickerson of Adams Morgan said.
Medical Corpsman John Jay Hill from the National Naval Medical Center arrived at Washington Hospital Center to pick up several hundred HIV testing kits for blood there. He said it was a tense scene at the Bethesda hospital.
The local office of the American Red Cross said there is an adequate supply of blood for victims who need it.
“At this time, we have not issued an urgent appeal,” said Kelly Alexander, Red Cross spokeswoman. She added that Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington is hooked into the Red Cross blood services and would let the organization know if it needs more.
“But if anyone would like to help, they can call 800/GIVE-LIFE to schedule an appointment to donate blood,” she said.
Tommy G. Thompson, secretary of Health and Human Services, said the blood bank at the National Institutes of Health would stay open for the next 24 hours to accept donations. Those wanting to donate blood were being asked to go to the south entrance of the Clinical Center (Building 10) on the Bethesda campus. People should call 301/496-1048 before arriving.
Vaishali Honawar, Karen Goff and Margie Hyslop contributed to this report.

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